|Library Finding Aids|
The numerous monographs, periodicals, newspapers, archives, herbaria, manuscripts and photograph collections which have been captured by IDC Publishers mostly involve rare materials which are often difficult to access. It is clear that, in the current information society, reliable electronic descriptions of these products are indispensable. IDC Publishers has proven to be responsive to this need, clearly articulated by libraries, research institutions and museums. In 1998, a separate department staffed by professional catalogers was established whose primarily concern was to be the creation of bibliographic records and finding aids in electronic form. Such metadata (data describing other data) can be used to ensure that relevant resources can be retrieved, located and related to other materials. In other words, such tools securing a long-term access guarantee that resources can actually be used.
An important service provided by IDC Publishers is that MARC21 records can be delivered free of charge to customers who purchase collections consisting of monographs or of serial publications. Each title has been catalogued on core level, according to the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2) and the Library of Congress authority files for names and subjects. IDC Publishers also contributes its newly published catalog records to the RLG Union Catalog, which is the largest bibliographic database of the Research Libraries Group (RLG).
IDC titles can easily be imported into library OPACS
As IDC's titles are encoded according to the MAchine Readable Catalog format, they can usually be loaded directly into most library OPACs. The fact that these MARC21 records can be sent alongside the actual content obviously save libraries the time needed to catalog hundreds of titles themselves. The implementation of core-level cataloging standards and authorized entries highly enhances retrieval capabilities. It enables an exploration of the collections in ways that were not possible on the basis of a printed (analogue) finding aid. MARC21 is a highly granular but also a very flexible format. Because the format has become such a widely adopted standard for the export and import of data to computerized library systems, several institutions have developed applications which can be used to transform MARC records into other metadata formats. the Library of Congress, for instance, has developed several tools to convert MARC-records into XML-compliant formats such as MARCXML or MODS. MarcEdit is a program which can be downloaded free of charge, and which can effectively transform MARC records into other metadata formats such as EAD and Dublin Core. MarcEdit can also be used to break down a MARC record into a plain, readable text file.
A large section of IDCís catalogue also consists of archival material. In order to provide access to these kinds of collections, IDC Publishers has began to develop finding aids that are encoded according to the data structure provided by EAD (Encoded Archival Description). This standard, which is based upon the Extensible Markup Language (XML), is a data a format that has rapidly, widely and internationally been embraced, particularly by archives and special collections departments within academic libraries. The standard used for the description of the content of archival collections is formed by Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS).
For each EAD finding aid, IDC Publishers also creates a user-friendly version in HTML, on the basis of XSL transformation stylesheets. These browseable representations of the EAD finding aids are placed on the companyís server and maintained centrally. Libraries and research institutions who include a link on their website to these online finding aids can thus benefit from the fact that they do not need to mind any corrections or additions to the finding aid. This is especially helpful in the case of collections such as the British Colonial Policy and Intelligence Files on Asia and the Middle East and Amnesty International's Country Dossiers and Publications, which are both updated on a regular basis. For each archival collection, a MARC21 record is available which enables users of an OPAC to find the collection and which also contains a direct link to the EAD finding aid on IDC's website. Alternatively, the entire finding aid in XML format can be sent on a CD or by e-mail. For more information, please contact IDC.